Textile Hall of Fame

Week of September 16, 2002

Innovators, entrepreneurs inducted

Four industry icons joined the American Textile Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies Monday. Accepting plaques were (L-R) Steve McCracken, president of DuPont Textiles & Interiors; James S. Love Jr., son of James Spencer Love; Frederick B. Dent; and E. Kent Swift Jr., great-great grandson of John C. Whitin, founder of Whitin Machine Works.
Photo by John Gillooly, PEI

LOWELL, MA — In a tribute to America’s spirit of enterprise, four industry leaders on Sept. 9 were inducted into the American Textile Hall of Fame (ATHF), a program honoring dedication and commitment to the nation’s textile industry.

The ATHM, now in its second year, is permanently housed in Lowell, MA, at the American Textile History Museum.

Inducted to the Class of 2002 were Frederick B. Dent, former chairman of Mayfair Mills, Spartanburg, SC, and Secretary of Commerce in the Nixon and Ford cabinets; James Spencer Love (1896-1962), a pioneer in weaving synthetic fibers and founder of Burlington Industries; E.I. du Pont Nemours and Company, Wilmington, DE; and Whitin Machine Works of Whitinsville, MA.

The inductees were honored at a luncheon and induction ceremony hosted by the ATFH board of governor’s at the museum.

Accepting the awards were Dent; Steven R. McCracken, president of DuPont Textiles and Interiors; Robert Love of Greenwich, CT, son of Spencer Love; and E. Kent Swift Jr., of Woodshole, MA, great-great grandson of John C. Whitin, who invented the first Whiten picker for cleaning cotton at the beginning of the spinning process.

“Taken as a whole, these honorees played important roles in textiles and the economies of all the Eastern states, from Maine to Georgia, and in fact, throughout the world,” James M. Fitzgibbons, chairman of the ATHF board of governors, which selected the Class of 2002, told attendees. “All four have been innovative and entrepreneurial. All four created jobs through which textile families improved their lives. All four have given service and support that strengthened their communities. Each has been an important part of the larger story of America.”

Labor of love now history

Week of September 16, 2002

Book chronicles Gaston textiles

Author Robert Allison Ragan is a Gastonia, NC, native who was born into textiles and its influences when cotton was king.

By Devin Steele

Robert Allison Ragan’s lifetime labor of love has finally bore fruit — a 4.2-pound, 431-page, 9-inch X 12-inch book entitled The Textile Heritage of Gaston County NC, 1848-2000.

And if the sheer size doesn’t slacken your jaw, perhaps the detailed nature of the 152-year historical reference will. The seven-page table of contents and 17-page index beckon readers to the book’s contents with an extensive directory of people, companies, organizations and events that helped shape the county’s history, business and culture.

Names such as Pharr, Stowe, Lineberger and Ragan are prevalent, of course, and you will be hard-pressed to find a Gaston County name or company not documented — thoroughly — in the book.

A Charlotte, NC, businessman who hails from a long line of Gaston County textile manufacturers, Ragan collected stories, notes, artifacts and photographs for about 50 years before putting it all together in this tome.

“The book is my contribution toward preserving an extraordinarily interesting and eventful 150-year era of Gaston County’s and the Carolinas’ Piedmont history — arguably, it’s most significant,” Ragan said. “It is important that present and future generations know just how much impact textiles had on their own lives and how it has shaped much of the economic and social fabric of the South.”

The self-published book ($69.95), on sale only at the Gaston County History Museum and through Ragan’s firm, R.A. Ragan & Co., has gained widespread interest not only from locals but from people around the country who visit the museum or its Web site, according to Barbara Brose, director of the museum.

Beth Laney Smith, as one of the first readers of the book, was also one of the first people impressed by its depth and breadth, she said.

“The Textile Heritage of Gaston County could also be titled Who’s Who In Gaston Textiles,” said Smith, president of Laney-Smith, Inc., a full-service advertising and public relations agency that specializes in corporate histories and local culture, and a publisher, author and critic herself. “Bob Ragan grew up in this environment and knew personally many of the people he writes about. He is a scholar with insight and patience.”

She added: “The book’s research is remarkably thorough, and is another of Bob’s achievements. It makes research in the book a rewarding adventure.”

In the early pages of the book, Ragan covers settlement of the region, the birth of industry there and the New South during Reconstruction, setting the stage for much more comprehensive sections. He provides explicit details of every textile company and plant to call Gaston County home; biographies of industry pioneers and leaders that include not only the particulars but lots of interesting tidbits; and a section called “Personalities and Eccentricities,” which offers anecdotes and little-known insights about these leaders.

In the book, he admitted that the latter section may seem “out of context and character with what is primarily intended to be a serious historical work,” he wrote, but that he thought it was important to cover these personalities and eccentricities, for fear that they would “forever be lost to time.”

Also included are sections on The Grand Cotton Festival, the American Yarn Spinners Association, the Carolinas Textile Exhibit at the Gaston County Museum, a biographical chronology, a chronology of mills and miscellaneous charts and tables.

More than 600 photographs, drawings and portraits illustrate this history.

Industry’s influence

The influence of the Southern textile industry on the prosperity and growth of the Carolinas is enormous, Ragan said. That, more than anything else, provided enough incentive to write this book, he said.

“The textile industry of Gaston County and to an even larger degree that of the entire South has been an integral part of this economy and way of life for such a long time and in such substantial proportions that, in my opinion, it ranks among the major transforming events in the history and progression of the South’s history and progression during much of the 19th century and much of the 20th century,” he said.

“Few people are aware of what a tremendous part Gaston County and its people have played in America’s textile history, and this is one of the reasons, of course, that I wanted to write the story of how extensive and concentrated its involvement has been,” he added.

The industry was the catalyst that brought tens of thousands of people to the Piedmont region, putting Carolinians to work at a time when they needed it most, he added.

“No other industry or profession that I’m aware has done so much for so many for so long,” Ragan said. “There was hardly any town of any importance that did not have at least one cotton mill and most had many more. And each one of them felt its economic stimulus. I think that’s true throughout the South.”

After the Civil War, enterprising men embraced the idea that industrialization would rebuild the South, Ragan noted.

“In the period following the Civil War, the burgeoning industry began to move inexorably to the South in order to utilize the vast supply of inexpensive, unemployed labor and its endless source of fine-quality cotton,” he said. “Eager workers began moving to the Piedmont by the thousands to find employment in the factories. It quickly became the economic engine that drove the South for well over a century. That’s important. A hundred years is a long time.

“After the Civil War there was little wealth or economic accomplishment in the region that was not directly or indirectly tied to cotton manufacturing. And that persisted for a long while.”

Textiles became a powerful magnet that drew many other industries and services to the region, Ragan noted.

“The vaults of the Southern banks were filled with money created, so to speak, by the industry,” Ragan said. “Textiles and the railroads created new towns and cities and more mills in the South than any other section in the country. Textiles, and to a lesser extent tobacco and furniture manufacturing, was also responsible for opening the region to vast trade with other sections of the country and many other areas of the world. At the time the South was primarily an agricultural region, so it very directly opened the region to the rest of the world.”

Textiles, America’s first industry, was responsible for starting the United States’ industrial revolution in Pawtucket, RI, in 1790, when Samuel Slater perfected the first cotton spinning mill, Ragan said. And the industry’s importance to America’s total economy is worth remembering and preserving, recent realities be damned, he said.

“Unfortunately, while today we are certainly seeing the American textile industry rapidly declining, it still has a tremendous significance in our history,” he said. “This predominant influence throughout America’s Cotton Belt has been lessening in terms of economic value and the number of people employed because of changes resulting both from a combination of tremendous technological improvement and efficiency, i.e. better machinery, and, sadly unwanted and unfair competition. In just the last five or 10 years, the darkening reality of America’s trade policy is even threatening the viability of the industry’s very existence.”

In that vein, Ragan indicated that the industry was at one time much more influential on affecting government policy.

“It was a large industry and used to be a very powerful industry,” he said. “Trade associations used to be large and powerful organizations in this country. I can remember that from my father’s involvement, and that of the Spencer Loves and Charlie Cannons and dozens of other people. They had tremendous resources and influence with the politicians in Washington and it represented a huge industry with lots of dollars and lots of people, but we don’t seem to have that anymore.”

Family played role

Ragan’s family played a significant role in the growth of the textile industry in Gaston County. The Ragans have been involved directly or indirectly with the industry for more than 100 years, beginning with his grandfather, George Washington Ragan.

In 1887, Ragan became one of nine founding partners in a cotton textile mill, the first in Gastonia and the first steam-powered factory in the area. His mills were the first to bring combed yarn technology to the South.

Later, in 1923, with his son Caldwell Ragan — Robert Ragan’s father — he opened Ragan Spinning Company, the last independent spinning mill company to be built in the county for over 50 years. That plant, the county’s 103rd, enabled Gaston to be recognized nationally as the “Combed Yarn Center of America.”

“There was seldom an important conversation in my family or anybody remotely connected with the textile end that did not revolve around cotton and textiles,” recalled Robert Ragan, a director at Carolina Mills for more than 25 years. “In Gaston County, you couldn’t walk out the door without seeing or hearing something related to textiles or cotton.”

Dating back to his teenage years, Ragan began collecting and documented historical data, “with no thought whatsoever about writing anything. My father had collected information, in no particular order, and I was always interested in history.”

Ragan would jot down information on whatever was available — scrap paper, napkins, the back of envelopes — related to conversations he would have that he deemed historically interesting, he said. In his spare time, he often conducted historical research, which he also documented, and gathered photographs and the like.

“One’s memory of time and events all too quickly fade,” Ragan said. “I think that’s why I began recording these stories and becoming more familiar with the lives of dozens of men and scores of mills. All this made it even more important to share my acquired knowledge before it was lost or destroyed.”

Years later, he ended up with a large box full of thousands of notes, plus scrapbooks of newspaper articles and photographs.

“I think I reached a point maybe in the 1970s, when I thought, ‘maybe I have something here that is of value,’ ” said Ragan, who retired from the banking industry in the mid-1980s. “It didn’t seem like anybody else was collecting this information, so I decided that perhaps I had best put it in some kind of order, where people could use it.”

So he began to write down his notes in more of a coherent, connected form, copied photographs and articles and formalized the work enough to create a compiled book, which wasn’t published. He then placed the book at various libraries around the Carolinas and “thought that would be the end of my project.”

The feedback he heard helped him realize the importance of this contribution to posterity, he said.

“Through the ’70s, ’80s and even into the ’90s, after I put that compiled work into state libraries, I would get calls from people at universities and all over the country who were writing their thesis for their doctorate or their masters and wanted to cite my work, so obviously it was a subject that was and still is very important to history.”

Ragan continued to gather information and often referred to his compilation.

“I thought, ‘boy, this really is not very well presented.’ I knew I needed to present it better,” he said. “Maybe it was then I decided that if I was going to go to all that trouble, why not write a book?”

Knowing that “having a little information is dangerous,” Ragan would spend the next 15 or 20 years doing more extensive research — chasing down leads, expanding information and verifying facts, figures and names. As he always had, he continued to interview or merely converse with sources, who filled in invaluable details, he said.

Want a Copy?

To order a copy of the $69.95 book, call the Gaston County History Museum at (704) 922-7682, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

“Related to the old (textile) families, I wanted to make sure they were treated as fairly as possible,” he said. “The historical accuracy of the story was of paramount importance to me. And I tried not to leave anybody out who needed to be in there.”

Meanwhile, Ragan was also working on another book, The Ragans of Gastonia, 1790-1995, which was about his family and could, in a sense, qualify as a history of the Gastonia textile industry and the county itself.

Without a background or training in writing or publishing, Ragan about 20 years ago contacted Bill Loftin of Loftin & Co. and Heritage Printers of Charlotte, who provided guidance during the process and would later print both of his books.

After his first book was published, in 1995, Ragan said he got involved with a purpose in The Textile Heritage, which he wrote by long hand on legal paper.

“One of the first things I learned was that, whatever else it may be, history is a story,” Ragan said. “For a story to be properly understood and enjoyed, it must have a common thread and the thread of Gaston County’s history lies in its extensive cotton spinning industry, which is a basic and integral part of the overall textile and apparel industry.

“In a large sense, the narrative also is a story of Gaston County itself, and in even a larger sense, a dozen towns in North and South Carolina that were tied to textiles.”

Apparel

Week of September 16, 2002

Atlanta club tours facility

ATLANTA — With six guests and 30 people total, the Atlanta Textile Club’s monthly luncheon was hosted by David Siegelman, president of Lectra USA.

After lunch and opening comments by Siegelman, guests were given demonstrations of fabric design technology used by nine of the 10 largest retailers for use with their own private label apparel. Members were shown specific applications for designing patterns for woven, knit and printed textiles, from the design to draping on models to actual printing.

Guests were then shown fabric printing technology and toured the body scanning facility and automatic market making.

Jim Geary, president of Gunold USA Inc, was voted in as the newest member of the club.

The Atlanta Textile Club dates back to 1930. The ATC is open to anyone involved in the global textile/apparel/sewn goods supply chain and meets the first Monday of every month for lunch with guest speakers.

Apparel

Week of September 16, 2002

AAPNetwork, delegation visit Haiti

ATLANTA — A delegation of executives from Academy Sports, Cross Creek, Standard Textile, Jerzees, Timberland, Grupo M and Precision Custom Coatings joined AAPNetwork Executive Director Sue C. Strickland in a trip to Haiti September 4-6.

The purpose was to visit AAPN member contractors there, including Haitian International Manufacturing, Martin Enterprises, S.A., MultiTex , Olitex S.A. and Palm Apparel Group.

“Haiti is a study in contrasts,” Strickland said. “Yes, you see poverty, but when you walk into a plant, it is as modern as any you’ll ever visit. Our members there are young, educated, enthusiastic. They work together as an industry to fund their promotion themselves. Everyone in our delegation was impressed and said they would be back.”

A senior AAPN sourcing manager member said, “they (AAPN contractors in Haiti) remind me of meetings I was in with Costa Rica’s industry over 15 years ago. Every element is in place — shipping, containers, modernization, technology, leadership, needle skills.”

The group’s next trip is the week of November 4, when they will visit Nicaragua to meet with its apparel association, ANITEC.

Organized in 1981, AAP-Network is the international network of sourcing manager, producers and suppliers of apparel to the market in America.

Apparel

Week of September 16, 2002

Lectra presents designer award

MARIETTA, GA — Lectra presented J.R. Campbell with the Outstanding Faculty Designer Award at the annual ITAA conference in August in New York City.

Campbell, an assistant professor specializing in textiles and clothing at Iowa State University, was recognized for his creative rendering of a Japanese-style kimono, demonstrating digitally printed textile design. His design, entitled “Touched Kimono,” was selected from more than 50 entries from design faculty across the nation.

With this award, Campbell received an all-expense paid trip from Lectra to attend Première Vision, a fabric show in Paris.

The Lectra Outstanding Faculty Designer Award is presented annually at the ITAA conference.

“We believe that digital printing is the future for textile design and have invested our own resources in research and development to make significant strides in digital textile printing technology,” said David Siegelman, president of Lectra North America. “We are proud to recognize Mr. Campbell’s achievements and his shared vision for this technology, and we further look forward to supporting his efforts at Iowa State University in pushing the adoption of digital printing into the future.”

Campbell’s design entry was based upon his current research efforts to explore creative applications, involving digital capture, development and surface application to textile art and design.

“Digital textile printing is a highly useful, cost-effective and flexible tool that will soon become an industry standard with a wide variety of applications,” Campbell said. “Designers who use digital printing can create samples of designs in-house immediately, rather than having to ship design specifications to a printer, who will typically use screen-printing techniques to create printed samples and then mail them back to the designers for review-a common process used today in the industry with a turnaround time of weeks.”

By exposing students to digital printing design, Campbell aims to help drive the demand for this technology. “Previous graduates from Iowa’s program have been able to drive the adoption of other technologies in the textile and apparel industry due to their entering the work force with an advanced technical skill set,” said Campbell.

“I believe that digital printing will be a future production tool for mass customization of apparel and textiles. At Iowa, we are currently using the tool for selling kidswear on-line. Families can personalize a garment by choosing from different styles, sizing and print design options, and we can then respond by fulfilling the order immediately, cutting, sewing and printing the garment on-site,” he added. “I have seen this level of customization strongly adopted by the interior design industry for items such as upholstery and curtains. We have also seen it grow in usage among boutique design firms specializing in fabrics for the apparel industry.”

Printing solution launched

PARIS — Lectra announced the launch of its new digital fabric printing solution at the JIAM international trade show of apparel industry equipment in Osaka recently.

Developed in partnership with Stork, this new solution combines software, hardware and services to extend creation and short production runs of all types of printed fabrics.

This solution includes digital design and printing allowing users to quickly create a wide range of designs in different colors and print them on fabrics; to produce short runs of products based on a technology until now reserved for the creation of prototypes; and to introduce innovative concepts through customized products and photographic quality prints with a wide range of printed colors.

Waverly Mills

Week of September 16, 2002

Waverly Mills earns ISO-9002 registration

LAURINBURG, NC — Waverly Mills Inc., a subsidiary of RJK & Co., has received ISO-9002 registration.

Waverly Mills is a manufacturer of 100 percent spun polyester yarns for industrial fabrics. These yarns go into various industrial products requiring stringent quality and thorough documentation.

Lloyd’s Registry, LRQA, released its certification in August, which was approved by the ANSI-RAB.

This culminates an 18-month effort by the employees and managers of Waverly Mills to meet the requirements of ISO 9002-1994, assuring a total quality program in manufacturing, purchasing and systems.

“This has been one of only a very few textile companies to earn ISO registration,” said Bob Kunik, president of Waverly Mills. “ISO confirms a company’s ability to produce and sustain a reliable product.

“We see ISO as a valuable asset for our manufacturing operation, sales team and customers,” he added. “Our customers and future customers will be assured that the polyester yarns we produce will consistently meet or exceed their specifications and expectations.”

Partnership

Week of September 16, 2002

Textile executives form partnership

GREENSBORO, NC — Four textile executives have formed TNC Global Consulting, a firm they said offers value-added services to middle market textile and apparel related companies.

Jorman Fields of Textile Network Concepts, Inc., David Morrell of DWM Ltd., Josh Hamilton of Management Solutions Group, LLC and Joey Fields of Textile Network Concepts, Inc. bring more than 100 years of combined experience in soft goods manufacturing and marketing to the venture.

TNC Global assists its clients in defining the appropriate export or domestic market segment for their businesses and helps implement a comprehensive business plan for turnkey penetration of that market, they said.

Paul Ling of Newtimes Ltd. Taiwan said, “For 30 years Newtimes has been a major supplier of fabrics to the apparel industry. In just over a year, David Morrell and TNC have brought us into a whole new market, the home furnishings industry. Without their assistance, it would have taken us years to achieve what they have done in one year.”

In addition to sales and sourcing, TNC Global Consulting provides its clients expertise and services in organization performance, strategic planning, quality and import/export logistics. TNC Global’s strength is its ability to evaluate the entire business enterprise, pinpoint and prioritize functions in need of improvement and implement actions to quickly realize the benefits of improved performance and increased cash flow, according to TNC officials.

A partial list of TNC Global Consulting’s clientele includes Canadian Fidelity Group, Gem & Co. Korea, Globecot, Inc., Industria Textil Tsuzuki, S.A., Newtimes Ltd., TNS Mills Inc., Venture Trading SA de CV, and Woodlands Mills Corporation.

“We retained Josh Hamilton to jump-start our marketing efforts and to help develop and launch new products,” said Globecot, Inc.’s Robert Antoshak. “His broad experience and marketing know-how proved important to our launch.”

“We have used TNC as consultants over the past six years,” said Min Lee of Gem & Co. Korea. “We have been very pleased with their professionalism.”

On the move

Week of September 16, 2002

Pillowtex President, COO Williams resigns

KANNAPOLIS, NC — Pillowtex Corporation announced Tuesday that Anthony T. “Tony” Williams, president and chief operating officer, has resigned to pursue other interests, effective immediately.

Williams joined Pillowtex in May 2000 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. He was named president and chief operating officer in November 2000.

“During his tenure at Pillowtex, Tony guided the company through a difficult period that included its reorganization and successful emergence from Chapter 11. We are indebted for his service to the company and wish him great success going forward,” said David Perdue, chairman and chief executive officer.

Perdue will assume the responsibilities of president and chief operating officer until a replacement for Williams is named.

Stone to oversee IT at WestPoint Stevens

WEST POINT, GA — David R. Stone has joined WestPoint Stevens as senior vice president of information technology and chief information officer, effective Oct. 1.

He has been associated with Deloitte Consulting, Charlotte, NC, since 1984, most recently as a partner from 1990. Earlier he was senior manager from 1988, manager from 1986 and senior consultant from 1984. He was director of information systems with Martin Marketing, Charlotte, from 1981 and with Odell Associates, Charlotte, from 1973.

Stone graduated magna cum laude from Furman University, Greenville, SC, with a B.S. degree in chemistry and studied for two years in the computer science Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In his new assignment, he will divide his time between IT offices at the company’s Corporate Offices here and at the Clemson (SC) Complex.

Mount Vernon promotes Duncan in purchasing

GREENVILLE, SC — William E. “Bill” Duncan has been promoted to vice president of purchasing for Mount Vernon Mills, Inc.

He will report to Roger W. Chastain, president and chief operating officer.

Duncan graduated from Clemson University in 1980 with a B.S. in financial management and is a CPA. He then joined Riegel Textile Corporation in 1980 as an internal auditor and has since held a number of positions in both the Corporate Office and at the LaFrance Division.

Most recently, he held the position of director of special projects for the company.

C&A appoints Richard senior vice president

TROY, MI — Collins & Aikman Corporation has appointed Christopher J. Richard to senior vice president of Global Commercial Fabric Sales & Product Design, reporting directly to both Thomas E. Evans, chairman and CEO, and to Michael A. Mitchell, president, Global Commercial Operations.

The newly created position will increase the strategic focus of Collins & Aikman’s global fabric business.

Richard, who will be based at the company’s headquarters here, has more than 24 years of automotive experience with multiple suppliers, including serving as president of Worldwide Automotive and Technical Textiles for Guilford Mills, as well as previously holding a number of senior management positions with Garden State Tanning and Collins & Aikman.

Richard holds a degree in economics from Marietta College.

Walker joins Nylstar as president, COO

GREENSBORO, NC — Nylstar has appointed Basil B. “Sonny” Walker to the position of president and chief operating officer of Nylstar North America.

Walker will be located at the company’s headquarters here and report to Carlo Veronelli, CEO and general manager of Nylstar worldwide.

Walker began his career in 1973 with DuPont Fibers and held various manufacturing, marketing and business leadership positions for the company.

Most recently he was vice president of sales and marketing for DAK Americas, a polyester fiber producer that was formed upon the sale of that business by DuPont.

Demmink named VP at Speizman Industries

CHARLOTTE, NC — Paul R. M. Demmink has been appointed vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Speizman Industries, Inc.

He succeeds John Angelella, who resigned in June.

Demmink has more than 20 years of operational and financial management experience. Prior to joining Speizman, he was the owner of a distribution business here.

From 1989 to 1994, Demmink was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Broadway and Seymour, a provider of information systems to the financial services industry. As the CFO, he led Broadway and Seymour to a successful initial public offering in 1992 and served on the company’s board of directors until 1994.

Raitech adds rep in upper Midwest

CHARLOTTE, NC — Bill Sullivan of MSM Color Solutions has joined the Raitech network of manufacturer’s representatives.

He will carry the full line of Raitech textile measurement products and cover the upper Midwest.

Sullivan and his company are based in Lakeville, MN. He has spent the last 14 years serving quality control labs in the color measurement industry. Prior to that, he worked six years in the printing industry.

Quick-Knit hires Poarch as plant manager

CARTERSVILLE, GA — Charles Poarch has been named plant manager of Quick-Knit, Inc., a producer of knitted fabrics.

Before joining Quick-Knit, Poarch was a manufacturing executive in the textile industry for nearly 25 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Shorter College, Rome, GA.

Foss Manufacturing taps Schaefer in marketing

HAMPTON, NH — Foss Manufacturing Company, Inc., a researcher and innovator of specialty synthetic fibers and nonwoven fabrics, announced the appointment of Joel Schaefer as marketing manager for Fosshield Antimicrobial Technologies.

A pharmaceutical executive with 20 years of business experience, Schaefer will direct the company’s marketing operations.

Most recently, Schaefer served as director of business development of prescription device and delivery systems for Betts USA. Prior to Betts, he was manager of business development at North American Scientific Associates’ (NAMSA) Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Device Division.

Briefs

Week of September 16, 2002

Liberty Denim opens, to create 230 jobs

LIBERTY, SC — Liberty Denim, a new textile maker specializing in denim fabrics, said Sept. 6 that it will create 230 jobs with the start-up of a former Greenwood Mills facility that closed in December.

Greenwood employed about 300 people at the plant when it closed.

Liberty has already begun production and should be up to 150 employees by the end of the month, with at least 230 on the payroll by the end of the year, according to Michael Rickman, company president.

Jefferson Mills to close building in streamlining

PULASKI, VA — Jefferson Mills plans to close one of its two downtown buildings here, streamlining operations into the larger facility.

About 20 jobs will be lost as a result, the company said.

Jefferson, which employs about 200 people, processes raw yarn for the manufacture of lace, gloves, sewing thread and narrow fabrics.

The 104-year-old company has operated at a downtown location here since 1938. Company President David Spangler and a group of investors bought the company in 1991.

Veltex Corp. acquires distributing company

LOS ANGELES — Veltex Corporation announced that it has acquired an unnamed textile distributing company near its corporate office in Ontario, California.

TEXTILE HALL OF FAME: CLASS OF 2002

Week of September 16, 2002

James Spencer Love

Following are excerpts of remarks by Robert E. Coleman, a member of the board of governor’s of the American Textile Hall of Fame, in inducting Spencer Love into the hall.

James Spencer Love was elected to the American Textile Hall of Fame on the basis of his brilliant career with Burlington Industries, the textile company he founded in 1924.

James Spencer Love was born in 1896 in Cambridge, MA, son of James Lee Love, a member of the Southern textile Love family who taught mathematics at Harvard University. Spencer Love, as he was known in his business career, was educated at Harvard, graduating in 1917.

Spencer Love actively sought a place in the United States Army in World War I by attending the Officers Candidate School. It is told that he failed the course the first time, but persevered (a quality for which he would be known all his life) and was commissioned a second lieutenant. Love shipped out to France with the 78th Division as part of the American Expeditionary Force. When Armistice Day arrived, Love was the youngest major in the Army. His administrative skills were widely recognized.

Back in the States, Spencer Love decided to work in the textile industry and moved south. He went to work for the Gastonia Cotton Manufacturing Company at the Old Mill in Gastonia. Within a year, he engineered a leveraged buyout of the Old Mill and entered into the entrepreneurial side of the textile industry. He sold the mill in 1923 and went to Burlington, NC, where a group of business leaders were seeking just such a bright young entrepreneurial mind to bring prosperity to their city. Burlington Mills’ first plant opened in 1924.

He soon began working with the new synthetic fiber, rayon, known as “artificial silk.” Beginning in 1925 Spencer Love began a continuous process of expanding Burlington Mills. Burlington was the largest user of rayon in the world in the 1940s. And it was diversified into many parts of the textile business.

When Spencer Love died unexpectedly in 1962, Burlington Industries, as the firm was known after 1955, had more than 130 plants in 16 states and seven foreign countries. The Burlington sales force was spread throughout the U.S. It also was on the job in 85 foreign nations. Burlington began with 200 employees; in 1962, there were more than 65,000 employees.

At the time of his death, Robert T. Stevens, president of J.P. Stevens & Co., was quoted as follows:

“Spencer Love was the outstanding success story of our generation. ... He built in 40 years the largest and most diversified textile business the world as ever seen. He did it by a combination of extraordinary ability and unlimited willingness to work.”

During his life Spencer Love gave his time, energy and wisdom to his church, his community, educational institutions and the U.S. government.

Spencer Love was the father of eight children.

James Spencer Love was a giant in the field of textiles in a time of opportunity and change in the industry. He was an innovator, a consummate administrator, a leader, a colleague and a friend.

There are giants throughout the history of textiles in the United States. As our Textile Hall of Fame goes forward in future years we will honor more and more of them. We are pleased today to honor one of the most important of the first part of the 20th century. I am sure that Spencer Love will be one of those leaders against whom future nominees will be measured.

Frederick B. Dent

Following are excerpts of remarks by James M. Fitzgibbons, chairman of the board of governor’s of the American Textile Hall of Fame, in inducting Frederick B. Dent into the hall.

It certainly is an honor to come back to this podium and speak — on behalf of the entire industry — for the induction of Frederick B. Dent. Fred Dent was born in 1922 in Cape May, NJ, and grew up in Greenwich, CT. He graduated from St. Paul’s School and from Yale, where he majored in liberal arts with an emphasis on political science. He joined the Naval ROTC and played football as an end and place-kicker. Upon graduating, he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and went to war, serving in the invasion of Okinawa and through the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

Fred entered the textile industry as a salesman for his family’s firm, Joshua Baily & Company, agents for textile mills. After working briefly in New York, Fred went south to join Mayfair Mills, whose cotton fabrics were marketed by Baily, to learn the manufacturing side of the business outside of Spartanburg, SC. Instead of returning to New York, Fred stayed and rose to become president of Mayfair. He and his late wife Milly settled in Spartanburg and were blessed with five children.

In addition to his long and distinguished career as president and chairman of Mayfair, he served on the Committee for Economic Development, several presidential commissions, was an industry advisor during the Kennedy Round and had been president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

During President Nixon’s abbreviated second term, he served as Secretary of Commerce and then, when President Ford took office, he appointed Fred to be the first United States’ Trade Representative to enjoy cabinet status. He had previously been very involved in creating the Multi-Fiber Agreement to limit textile exports to developed countries, a huge accomplishment for the U.S. textile industry, so some said at the time that the industry had gained enormous clout through Fred’s appointment. He, in fact, demonstrated great balance, traveling to ATMI’s next annual meeting and warning the executives gathered there that they ought to look to their own competitiveness through innovation and productivity and not a government bailout. Fred would probably tell us that steel was the high-profile industry the, as now.

Service has been an important part of Fred’s life. He served as a trustee of Yale and has been an active civic leader of his “adopted” city of Spartanburg.

It’s a great personal honor for me to participate in the induction of Fred Dent.

Whitin Machine Works

Following are excerpts of remarks by Robert I. Dalton Jr., a member of the board of governor’s of the American Textile Hall of Fame, in inducting Whitin Machine Works into the hall.

It’s my honor and privilege to introduce to you the next recipient of the Hall of Fame award. Before I do so, let me say that your Awards Committee felt it would be very appropriate to include in the Hall of Fame one of the great textile machinery manufacturers that had a huge impact on building the textile industry to what became one of the most productive and low-cost producers of yarns and fabrics in the world.

The recipient of our next award, the Whitin Machine Works, was what is believed to be the oldest and, at one time, the largest textile machinery manufacturer in the world. Founded in 1831 by John C. Whitin, the company grew to a point that when I joined the company in 1946, it occupied 55 acres of manufacturing floor space and employed 5,200 people.

My memories of Whitin go back to what I always considered to be the halcyon years of our textile industry — the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Engineering and construction companies like Lockwood Green and Daniel Construction Company were kept busy designing and building new single-story air-conditioned plants all over the South, and at Whitin the assembly floors were building spinning frames at the rate of 40 per week.

Yarn producers such as DuPont, Celanese, Monsanto and others were coming to Whitin to build proprietary equipment for their new plants to produce nylon, Dacron and other magical fibers. Let me say this about those fiber producers: they were very good but demanding customers. For example, the draw rolls for a draw twister were built with required tolerances of one ten-thousands of an inch. A variance in that tolerance could affect the dyeing characteristics of the fiber.

But those were the glory years of Whitin. There were times in the early 1900s and early 1930s when times were bleak, and the mills had no money to purchase new machinery. I remember my father saying there was no real money in the South until after World War I. Anyway, it was not unusual for Whitin to accept common stock from a customer who had little or no cash to buy machinery. That brings me to an example that I think might be of interest to our chairman, Edward Stevens:

One of Whitin’s customers who found it necessary to use some of its common stock was Ragan Spinning Mills located in Bessemer City, NC. Years later, when J.P. Stevens was negotiating to acquire Ragan Spinning Mills, it learned that Whitin was an owner of some of the common stock. Ed’s uncle, Robert Stevens, who was chairman of J.P. Stevens, was a generous man and agreed to acquire Whitin’s holdings at a very fair price. But, this is just one way in which Whitin struggled to become the largest builder of textile machines at one point in its long history.

The man receiving the award today on behalf of the Whitin family is E. Kent Swift Jr., great-great grandson of John C. Whitin, the company’s founder. Kent Swift Jr. served as vice president of research at Whitin before retiring to Woods Hole down on the Cape during the ’60s.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Following are excerpts of remarks by Arthur M. Spiro, a member of the board of governor’s of the American Textile Hall of Fame, in inducting DuPont into the hall.

I am honored to make this presentation to DuPont Company and Steve McCracken. In so doing I want to briefly reflect with you on the past 55 years of my relationship with DuPont as respect to the changes that have taken place in our textile industry.

After having received my graduate degree in textile and chemical engineering in 1947, the first and best business job offer I received was from the DuPont Company, which invited me to Wilmington, DE, for two days of interview meetings, but I decided to stay in academia at MIT — a situation that changed several months thereafter when I accepted a position in the textile industry and soon thereafter became very involved in working with fiber development and purchasing, which continued actively until my recent retirement.

After WWII and continuing from the late ’40s through the ’60s and ’70s the cutting edge of U.S. industry technology was in high polymer chemistry and the development, engineering, production and commercialization of processes and products in resins, plastics and high polymer fibers (then comparable to today’s new frontiers in biotechnology and high-tech management information systems) and is widely acclaimed that the DuPont Company was the world leader in this regard, using the slogan, “Making Better Things For Better Living Through Chemistry.”

From the early days when DuPont produced only rayon and acetate fibers, through the development and commercialization of nylon; Orlon, which was originally known as Fiber “A”; Dacron, originally known as Fiber “V”; Lycra Spandex; Teflon; Kevlar; and a host of other specialty fibers, the DuPont Company led the world. I am proud to have been a small part of this effort during which time I was privileged to meet and know many friends at DuPont, including one very special one who I first met in the late 1940s, Bill Harman, who rose to become the sales and marketing manager for all DuPont Fibers and whose friendship I cherish and who is with us here today.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. was founded 200 years ago, on July 19, 1802, on the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington, DE. The du Ponts were an enterprising family dedicated to quality and innovation in their business activities. They began making gunpowder of the highest quality, thereby establishing the firm’s reputation for excellence from its very beginnings.

To give any full overview of all that DuPont has accomplished in its two centuries would require more time than we have today. The key role that the du Ponts and the corporation played in the formation and operation of General Motors is a major story in itself.

I do want to give a flavor for the innovations and leadership of DuPont in textiles. We can begin with the company’s entrance into the manufacture of dyestuffs during the First World War. DuPont’s Deepwater, NJ, Dyeworks was the birthplace of the American dye industry.

In the years after the 1918 armistice, DuPont began producing and spinning the exciting new synthetic fiber, rayon, the “artificial silk.”

In the 1930s, DuPont engineer Wallace Carothers and his colleagues created nylon, a synthetic fiber that was enthusiastically greeted by women looking for better hosiery. Nylons were all the rage at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. During World War II, nylon was used instead of silk in the making of the parachutes used by our flyers and paratroopers.

In the past 50 years, a host of the company’s new products, both fiber-based and DuPont nonwovens, have continued to revolutionize the clothing we wear and the products that help to define our daily lives.

From those early beginnings on the Brandywine, DuPont has grown into an influential developer and provider of products that we all use on a daily basis.

McCracken, president of DuPont Textiles and Interiors, will accept the award for DuPont.

Editorial

Week of September 16, 2002

U.S. textiles: A proud history

OVER THE last couple of weeks, we’ve published articles about institutions and people whose primary purpose is preserving the history of this great American industry. Last week, we featured the textile exhibit at the Gaston County Museum in Dallas, NC. This week, we provided coverage of induction ceremonies of the American Textile Hall of Fame in Lowell, MA, and a story about Robert A. Ragan, author of the definitive book about the textile history of Gaston County, NC.

Indeed, the history of this industry has an appropriate place within these pages. We believe it’s worth preserving for the ages. Great efforts have been made to sustain the vestiges of our past and to honor those who played significant roles in shaping that history.

The importance of maintaining history was summed up last week by James M. Fitzgibbons, chairman of the American Textile Hall of Fame’s board of governors, during induction ceremonies for the Class of 2002: “... we believe that — properly presented — history can come alive and help succeeding generations learn from, and appreciate, the experiences of their forebears.” And Ragan, in his introduction to The Textile Heritage of Gaston County, North Carolina, 1848-2000, offered a unique perspective on the art of historical documentation: “Great men supply the themes for history. But history is the creative construct of the historian; it does not just happen.”

RELATED TO the Hall of Fame, its board of governors did a tremendous job of selecting the second class. Frederick Dent, Spencer Love, DuPont and Whitin Machine Works were all very appropriate choices. All giants of the industry, whose enormous contributions helped make the industry a stalwart over the last 100-plus years, they all deserved a spot in the hall, housed at the American Textile History Museum. Other than the charter class of Samuel Slater, Roger Milliken and Duke Power, can you think of any person or institution more deserving?

As for Ragan’s book, let us say that you must see it to believe it. Its sheer size is intimidating enough, but a perusal of the contents will surely blow you away. The author did a yeoman’s task in not only chronicling the leaders and mills of Gaston County during a 152-year period, but tying them together with an instinctive storytelling ability. This tome, the result of a lifelong effort, should be in the lobbies or offices of textile companies throughout the “textile belt,” given its broad-based appeal and Ragan’s propensity for tying the county’s textile history to the larger history of the South and the country.

WE HOPE you have found these articles interesting. We certainly see these efforts to preserve history for posterity’s sake as important. We commend those who are doing their part to keep this history alive rather than allowing them to become a fleeting memory. These historical endeavors give us pause to remember our past, and bring into proper perspective our place as an industry and our future trajectory.

The old saying goes, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But in the case of the U.S. textile industry, learning from the innovators, institutions and leaders of the past are helpful as we chart our course for the 21st century. And repeating history wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

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